What Gay Pride Is and Why It Matters

As the Justices of the Supreme Court continue to wage war over the Defense of Marriage Act, people all over the US are preparing to kick-off Pride season with hundreds of events scheduled to take place.

If you were to ask a handful of people what Gay Pride is all about, you’d most likely get quite a few different answers and opinions. There tend to be a lot of misconceptions about Pride events. What immediately comes to most peoples’ minds are drag queens, floats, booths handing out free condoms, people drinking mass amounts of beer, rainbow flags, and lots of same-sex couples making out and holding hands.

For many people, it isn’t just about honoring their sexual orientation. They see it as a time to reflect upon the historic moments and brave people who stood up for equal rights when it was dangerous to come out–to make life just for people of all orientations and walks of life. It takes a lot of courage to stand up and tell the world who you are.

From small groups of people to large scale festivals with hundreds of thousands of people in attendance, they all have something in common: They promote equal rights, increase the visibility of the LGBT community and celebrate sexual diversity and gender variance.

Stonewall

Gay pride, believe it or not, is not all about rainbows and parades for LGBT people, but a time for politically involved and impassioned people to stand up and share pride in who they are and to try and change the world for the better. It’s about being able to find the courage to be steadfast against all of the ignorance and hate around you, and finally, after so much internal struggle, be free.

It’s a reminder that we have so much to be proud of, whether it’s our victories with gay marriage, representation in the movies and on television, anti-bullying campaigns, or gay adoption rights.

But it’s also very important to understand these events take place to commemorate the Stonewall Riots. PBS’s American Experience writes:

“In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in the Greenwich Village section of New York City. Such raids were not unusual in the late 1960s, an era when homosexual sex was illegal in every state but Illinois. That night, however, the street erupted into violent protests and demonstrations that lasted for the next six days. The Stonewall riots, as they came to be known, marked a major turning point in the modern gay civil rights movement in the United States and around the world.”

If you’re interested in watching the documentary Stonewall Uprising, you can watch it below. The 90-minute film draws upon rare archival material and eyewitness accounts of the events that took place to bring this monumental moment in time to life.

In commemoration of the resistance, events are held across the country every summer, particularly towards the end of June and beginning of July.

The modern Pride movement hasn’t just benefited the LGBT community. What may seem like a never-ending journey towards building a society that is accepting of all its citizens, is actually a monumental movement making way for a stronger nation.

If you have never participated in a pride celebration because you are not out or to show some support for someone you love, I challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone.

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